Tuesday, June 4, 2013

EA as Strategy Steward

There are a number of definitions of Enterprise Architecture that describe it as helping to realize the enterprise strategy, translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change. A difficulty with this is that strategies are often so poorly articulated that they are almost impossible to translate into anything realistically achievable. Some strategies are little more than project road maps, whilst others are wish lists of improbable objectives. Should Enterprise Architecture be the agent of enterprise strategy?

  1. Enterprise Architecture, as a discipline and a function, should be responsible for the form and expression of enterprise strategy, certainly the quality of the artifact, and preferably contributing to the development of its content. The best way to shape an effective form of strategy, enterprise, or departmental, is to facilitate its development. 
  1. EA can be used to help express what business capabilities will be required or have been assumed to be required to execute business strategy. It will give some line of sight to various assumptions, test out completeness, highlight interdependencies, etc. To this extent, it is aiding the process that takes an organization from published strategy to fully executed strategy.  
  1. EA can add value by "QA" the strategy outputs, showing where there are inherent weaknesses, giving visibility to critical hidden assumptions which would render the strategy virtually un-executable. That, is a genuine opportunity and role as strategy agent, it means assuring quality, including that an appropriate development process has been followed as well as the form and logic of the artifact(s). 
  1. EA can be the bridge between vision and tactics and thus can act as the steward of the strategy. Today we complete the strategy, tomorrow we execute the strategy. To bridge between strategy and execution is to be actively involved in and contributing to strategy development with the outcome being a strategy with its associated program plan, ready for execution.  In the end, getting consensus and agreement in the organization is critical. Consequently, an EA function can add value by creating and managing a 'strategy framework' (custodian of) to help ensure that strategies are articulated that assist bridging to execution. 
  1. EA discovers, documents and formulates a common cross-domain communications vehicle of language (normative glossary), models, relationships and analysis to bring the whole of the enterprise's interests to a consistently understood view of the as-is and desired-future state of the enterprise concerns. Strategies are often poorly articulated or aren't really strategies, which can mean a huge amount of misdirected activity and investment 
  1. Strategy is definitely a foundation component of enterprise architecture - but from complete comprehension, improvement inputs and practicality test perspectives. EA should have (significant) contributory role in crafting well articulated, realistic, achievable and executable strategy (and objectives). EA is trusted advisor, enabler and informer to decision maker or strategy custodians 
  1.  An EA group has to manage all aspects of strategy. They have to manage a reasonably stable standard core to support real innovation that could be built on top. They also need to manage the growth or evolution of core itself, as well as gracefully handling special projects. And two of the major problems of business strategies are (1) they are poorly communicated and (2) poorly understood. As a result people are unsure of 'What is happening', 'What they should do', and most importantly 'Why anything needs to be changed'. 
Therefore, EA provides visibility & insight upon Strategy: A good strategy takes creativity, but neither strategy nor innovation is serendipity only, it takes structure or framework, that's the role EA should play, to balance the two sides of world, or two parts of human brain, innovation vs. standardization; creativity vs. logic, analysis vs. synthesis, management vs. governance. EA does not REQUIRE that everything fits within the "tried and true" architecture. What EA ideally does, is to provide visibility and insight into the costs/resources associated with various business strategies. EA can evaluate business's capabilities to implement strategy, also design risk/governance management process in executing strategy



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